Friday, September 9, 2011


483. You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving. -- Anatole France

How to spend a Friday evening. Part 2. 

Stop making excuses like (a) you are feeling really grumpy at the moment, thanks to an unsolicited reminder from Facebook of what happened this day in 2009, (b) you do not have rice paper, the single most important ingredient, (c) your friends most likely have never tasted nuoc cham, the traditional accompanying sauce for Vietnamese cold rolls -- it will be too strong for them, (d) your cooking is, well, there was the "unconventional" first version of your cornbread, (e) etc. Just shop for whatever it takes and make the cold rolls. You can learn to make cold rolls only by making cold rolls. In any case, you have made them before, in your early teenage years, still living at home, protected by familial love and home-cooking. Your cold rolls will turn out OK. Even if they don't, your friends will be polite enough to smile and eat the rolls anyway. Make spring rolls too, because some of your friends prefer deep-fried entrĂ©es over cold ones. Even if you can't test the final (non-pescetarian) products, your friends will; hopefully, their politeness is boundless. 

Most likely, it will be, because they know what it is like to make the efforts to cook for someone else. Rosalina and Professor E. Gadd will shop for the French counterparts of the Italian ingredients for their delicious red wine and red chicory risotto, walk an hour to your apartment, painstakingly prepare the main meal on a proper pot borrowed from Catherine and delivered by Princess Peach, and then create both Parmersan and Camembert versions to suit everyone. Princess Peach will mix, from home, a second batch of yummy zucchini dough within twenty four hours, then bake it in your oven; the bread itself an equal success, the overall taste enhanced by creamy vanilla ice-cream, the proverbial cherry on the cake.

Somehow, between leisurely enjoying your friends' food (and, surprisingly, even your own), learning how to write the seven deadly sins in five different languages and listening to self-confessions for most and least applicable sins (the former being Sloth for all of your friends, the very same ones who have just spent all this time cooking), your grumpiness will slowly seep away, unnoticed. You will, however, feel slightly embarrassed when your flatmate, who -- after being conveniently busy when found out that you were cooking -- comes home just in time for dessert, and then promptly says out loud, without the slightest hesitation, what (he thinks) your most applicable sin is, which is not your proposed Gluttony and obviously not Sloth. Realizing the implication of your flatmate's assessment, everyone will laugh, Catherine commenting on how you should talk less to your male flatmate and more to your female friends. 

Then, you will feel really embarrassed, because when it is your turn to point out the most applicable sin of your flatmate, you say Sloth, and then, without thinking, adding that you choose it not because Yoshi is lazy, but because nothing else fits. Everyone will go, awwww, at the expense of your red face, but thankfully, they will quickly move on to other topics. Like, whether or not it is a good thing to have your child born on your own birthday (yes, from the guests, and no, from the hosts), Princess Peach teasing the hosts for having not yet developed parental feelings, Yoshi self-defending by pointing out that he is not thirty, not knowing that every single guest turns thirty at one point this year. Like, how to Mohawk and dye hair for hamsters, Professor E. Gadd, a thirty-year-old-to-be, humanly whacking an imaginary hamster onto the edge of the dining table. 

By the time the late-night monopoly game is over and the hamster killer, having almost bankrupted the bank, is crowned billionaire, you will have completely forgotten about your Facebook status on this day in 2009, just like you have long forgotten about all the subsequent online congratulations, back in the days when you knew how to love someone unconditionally. Tell your visibly exhausted flatmate, who is pushing the dining table back against the fake fireplace, that he can go to sleep if he wants to. Being a boy, Yoshi will immediately take your offer and say goodnight. As the clock strikes two, you start the dish washer and wash up pots and plates that did not fit in. Of course they can wait until tomorrow, but it would be nicer if your flatmate does not wake up to a messy kitchen. Silently thank God (or, more realistically, your parents) that you still remember how to make cold rolls. Maybe you will also remember how to love someone unconditionally, when the time comes.

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